Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Monday, April 22, 2013

3 Tips for Picking a Curriculum that's Right for Your Students

One of the hardest things to do as a homeschool mama is pick the right  curriculum     for our schools. When I was homeschooled, there were a handful of choices. Bob Jones, A Beka, Alpha Omega, and a couple others. Now there are so many choices it can be overwhelming. And let's face it...there's the fear that if we pick the wrong one our children will be forever scarred. So what's a mama to do?

1) Watch your children. How do they learn? Can they learn in a more traditional, workbook approach or do they require a hands-on approach to learning? Are they auditory or visual learners? Kinesthetic? A combination? Once you understand that, you can begin looking for a  curriculum that works to those learning styles.

2) Talk to homeschoolers who have been at it a while and are succeeding. What curriculum do they use? Why? How do they modify it to work in their homes? Ask what else they've used. For example I appreciate A Beka grammar -- it is solid and your student will know how to write when they are done, but I've never gotten the spelling component to work for us. Through asking on Facebook for recommendations, I found a spelling curriculum that is working very well for us. So be open to mixing and matching.

3) Pray. Ask God for heavenly wisdom to know what to do with your kids. And be willing to change it up from year to year. I'm convinced A Beka history and science are the best out there. In part it's because I used them through tenth grade and then got As in science and history in college. But that doesn't mean we don't use other programs, too. My kids just get a double dose of history and science. A Beka is very solid in math, but I also use Saxon especially as we hit the higher grades. But this summer we're going to do a different program for geometry because I noticed my daughter isn't grasping the visuals for geometry. This program emphasizes that aspect. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Living in the Moment with Our Kids

There are days when being a Mom is absolutely, utterly draining. The days when one child after another comes to me, needy, clingy, and filled with attitude. There are days I'd love to check out -- even for fifteen, uninterrupted minutes.

My son in this photo is 2.5. Yesterday he was a newborn I was meeting for the first time. Tomorrow he'll be six, then ten, then fifteen. My 12.5 year old is knocking on the door to becoming a teenager when I could swear just yesterday she was five and beginning the adventure of school and growing up.

I adore my kids, but somedays being a mother is exhausting. So I take the kids to the library and read a book rather than interact with them. Or we go to the park and out comes my phone so I can catch up on something. And of course, that's the day when there's a challenge to moms to get out of our phones and notice our kids. Ironic timing.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Homeschooling: Is it for you?

It's that time of year when parents thoughts turn toward where their kids should go to school in the fall. For some, their thoughts will turn to homeschooling. How can you evaluate whether homeschooling might be right for your family?

I have often heard my mom tell people that homeschooling is for every's just not for every parent. What she means is that every child can thrive in a one-on-one tutoring type instruction. It simply makes sense. Place a child with a caring instructor who can tailor his or her learning to the needs of that child and the child will learn and excel.
However, not every parent has the discipline, patience, endurance to make homeschooling work. I love my kiddos. Adore them even, but there are still days that it would be a lot easier to send them to a school. Fortunately, my kids would still do fine in a regular classroom environment. Yet we choose to keep them home even as we discuss the options available to us
  • Homeschooling is a calling. It may not be a forever calling...I honestly don't know...but I know this is where our kids are supposed to be right now.
  • It allows our kids to accelerate at their own pace. Right now, both school age children work above their grade level -- enough so that it would make it a little tricky to figure out where to place them. Still I also love that there's freedom and margin to slow down when needed to insure a subject is mastered before we move ahead.
  • I can make sure my children are learning the things that matter most to you. Yes, I am STRINGENT about the three r's, but we start our day with devotions and Bible. This year we've read from Exodus through I Samuel. We're talking about some hard issues and solidifying their understanding of Old Testament history. That's critical to my husband and me.
  • We have the flexibility to plan family adventures and school year round. Yes, even during the summer, I make my kids keep working on certain subjects: primarily math and one other area that I feel needs buttressing. But if I know I'll need to be at a conference a week in September, we start a week earlier in August. Homeschooling gives you the flexibility to take advantage of unique opportunities while still schooling.
If you homeschool, what motivates you? If you're considering it, what appeals to you and what scares you?

Friday, April 12, 2013

What's Your Name?

Today I am so grateful that God takes the names we give ourselves or other's label us and renames us with truth!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Guest Post: Speaking Blessings over Our Kids

I am absolutely delighted today to bring you a guest post from my friend Carey Scott. Her husband and I got to know each other through a small critique group in ACFW when I first started writing in 2005. I'm always looking for new tools and encouragement as I parent my kiddos. Here's Carey:

“Sara, you’re beautiful and smart… and you have Jesus in your heart!  Now go be the light of the world!”

I speak these words to my daughter as she heads off to school each morning. Usually, she smiles at me and says, “Mom, you always say that!”

She’s right… I do.

Why? Because I want to speak blessings into her life. Words are powerful, and when we speak truth and life into our kids, it sets them up for success.

Do you bless your children with your words?

Monday, April 08, 2013

When Jesus Wept: Captivating Biblical Fiction

I fell in love with WWII novels while reading Bodie Thoene's Zion Chronicle and Zion Covenant series. She has an absolute knack for making the history come alive in the context of story and characters that are so real. I've read several of her A.D. Chronicles (co-written with husband Brock), but when I saw this cover and this title, I knew I had to be part of this tour.

When Jesus Wept transports readers to Biblical times. Lazurus is imagined as a recent widower who is trying to put the pieces of his life back together after his tragedy. In classic Thoene way, this book from the first page deposited me in a different time period and place and had me firmly believing I'd arrived. Rich historical and political details are woven into the backdrop in a way that adds authenticity without slowing down the story. I'm usually skeptical of Biblical fiction because I don't want the truth of the Bible muddied in my mind with an author's ideas. I've found in the Thoenes Biblical fiction a tone that adds richness to what the Bible describes.

If you love historical fiction or are looking for a fresh take on a well known friendship, give this book a try! I think you'll like it.

When Jesus Wept
Book 1 in the Thoene’s new  Jerusalem Chronicles.
Brock and Bodie Thoene’s most powerful and climactic writing project to date, When Jesus Wept, captures the power and the passion of the men and women who lived through the most important days in the history of the world.
Lazarus occupies a surprising position in the Gospel accounts. Widely known as the man Jesus raised from the dead, his story is actually much broader and richer than that. Living as he did at Bethany, near Jerusalem, Lazarus was uniquely placed to witness the swirl of events around Jesus. When Jesus Wept, the first novel in The Jerusalem Chronicles series by bestselling authors Bodie and Brock Thoene, unfolds the turbulent times in Judea during Jesus’ ministry, centering on the friendship between Jesus and Lazarus. With rich insights from vineyard owners and vine dressers, the Thoenes explore the metaphor of Jesus as the True Vine, harvesting the ancient secrets found in the Old Testament.
Weaving the life of Lazarus, who owned a vineyard, into the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ will help you understand it is the hand of Love Divine that holds the knife, that cuts and breaks with such tender and loving touch, and that we who have born some fruit, after the pruning, can bear much more.

Friday, April 05, 2013

A Novel Lovers Giveaway: 12 Books by 12 Authors

Some of my writing friends and I have joined together for a giveaway of our books. To participate, just join in the Rafflecopter below. Here are the details: 

Some writer friends and I have a fabulous new giveaway for readers in the USA who are on Facebook.
The winner gets twelve fabulous autographed novels by twelve authors (see graphic at right). All you need to do to enter is Like all of the authors’ Facebook Pages. There are ten author Pages that must be liked in order to be entered. And we have two authors giving away books who don’t have author Pages but are using their Facebook Profiles. So if you would be so kind as to visit and “friend” Deborah Raney and Cara Putman, it would be deeply appreciated. Just click on the names to see their profiles and send a friend request: Deborah Raney and Cara Putman.
10 of 10 to winIf you are unsure how the Rafflecopter form works, please look at the graphic at the bottom of this blog post. The instructions in red and screenshots will help make sure you enter correctly. Not everyone is completing all ten requirements. If you don’t complete all ten, you will not be eligible to win. You must see “10/10 Entries Earned” to qualify to win the 12 books (see graphic at left).
The contest ends at 12:01 am on May 1, 2013 and the winner will be announced later that day. Good luck to everyone!
Please tell your Facebook friends about the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Do We Dare to Dream Crazy Dreams with God?

Last summer my family had a crazy adventure. For awhile the longing for a shared adventure had grown in my heart. Because my husband spent seven of his growing up years in the Far East, I’ve harbored a desire for our children to share a similar experience. The more I thought and prayed about it, the crazier it seemed. Yet the longing never left. So I tucked it close to my heart and prayed.

Let’s face it – this was one of those crazy ideas. Children can have wonderful lives without spending weeks in a foreign country. Still…I clung to the idea and prayed.
God sometimes smiles on those crazy dreams we have for our kids that we hardly dare to articulate. Last summer through a miraculous series of events, we spent eight weeks in Germany. Yes, eight weeks! Just because God loves to delight His kids – while we were in Germany my daughter, a competitive

Monday, April 01, 2013

Running with Perserverance

I'm in the middle of training for another mini-marathon. Each year that I do this, it seems God has something different for me to learn or ponder. This year it seems to be the issue of discipline.

Yes, I am a highly disciplined person. But this year God's using my training to reinforce that I am disciplined in the things I want to be disciplined in. Because I write late at night, I'm not a morning person anymore. Yet because of my crazy schedule right now, the only time for me to get in my

Friday, March 29, 2013

Love in the Balance: an Engaging Historical

Love in the Balance is a tale of star-crossed love...a tale where it seems the hero and heroine can absolutely never get together. There are so many rich layers, that it created a story that kept calling me back. There was nothing simple or easy about the journey or the resolution. And the twists kept me longing to return to the pages -- that's not easy to do with a book that is pretty much straight historical romance.

The characters started a wee bit flat, but became richer and more complex as the story developed. While it's the second in the series, it stands completely on its own. A very good thing, since I hadn't read the first book (though I want to.). The hero is a lay preacher of sorts, and a couple scenes with a couple that had experienced a miscarriage were very touching. As someone who's lived that journey, I appreciated the sensitive treatment of an unseen pain. This book also ends with one of the most beautiful scenes of redemption and healing that I have ever read. It was wonderful!

A book that lovers of historical romance will enjoy...and maybe find themselves challenged by the spiritual journey and questions that fill the pages.
Love in the Balance
Handsome Cowboy or Debonair Tycoon.
How’s a Girl to Choose?
Molly Lovelace dreams of a life without cares in Lockhart, Texas. She also dreams of handsome wrangler Bailey Garner, her ardent but inconsistent beau. The problem is, with Bailey’s poor prospects, she just can’t fit the two dreams together.
Then mysterious stranger Edward Pierrepont sweeps into town–and her life–and for the first time Molly wonders if she’s met the man who can give her everything. But he won’t be in Lockhart long and while it certainly seems like he talks about their glorious future together, she can’t quite get Bailey out of her mind.
What’s a girl to do with all these decisions when love is in the balance?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

4 Ideas for Transmitting Faith

One of my goals as a homeschooling momma is to transmit my faith to my kids. I want them to have a personal relationship with Christ from a young age. But I also understand they can't ride on my coattails, or my husband's or their grandparents, or aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.  You get the picture.

So I long for them to catch sight of who Jesus is so they can spend the rest of their lives chasing Him and His will for their lives.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Let in snow, let it snow!

Who knew it would snow so much for my birthday... Loving it.

Isn't this a great photo of our puppy? She LOVES the snow. Capital letters doesn't quite do her affection for the white, cold, wet stuff justice. She won't come in she loves it so much. She's catching a snowball in this photo. Love it!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Soak in the Truth

No matter what your week has been like, take a moment to soak in this song. I am so grateful that God never leaves me...not for a moment. I might forsake Him, but He is always there. Such truth and hope in these words. Remember no matter what is happening He is always good and sovereign.

You were singing in the dark 
whispering Your promise 
even when I could not hear 
I was held in Your arms 
carried for a thousand miles to show 
Not for a moment did You forsake me 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Swept Away from Mary Connealy

Swept Away

Mary Connealy is one of my favorite authors. She's from Nebraska which is enough on it's own to make her someone I enjoy. Then she writes with such humor that I spend most of the time I'm reading laughing. And she fills her books with  a rich spiritual thread. Many of them I still ponder months and years later.

With deadlines, I haven't had time to read this book yet, but it is next on my TBR pile. And I know when I start it, I'll be swept away in a story that transports me to the 1880s and characters that I love.


When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there’s going to be trouble in Texas!

Swept away when her wagon train

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Grave Consequences: Sweeping Gilded Age Tale

Grave ConsequencesGrave Consequences is a book that will sweep you into the world of the uber-rich during the Gilded Age. I felt like I became the silent member of a group of Americans on their Grand Tour of Europe. The book is a sweeping continuation of the series and one that left me dying for the next installment...enough so I've been tempted to drive to Colorado and beg the author for an early copy.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series!

The Powerful, Epic Romance Continues, Book 2 in Lisa T. Begren’s Grand Tour series

For Cora Kensington, the journey of a lifetime takes unexpected twists. And her future—her very life—depends on the decisions she’ll make at each crossroad. As her European tour with her newfound family takes her through Austria, France,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Meditations: The Wise Man Built His House Upon the Rock

Yesterday our pastor taught another sermon in his series The Crux. It's been a great set of thought-provoking sermons as we lead up to the moment in time when the Cross transformed from a sign of contempt and justice to one of grace and mercy. (You can watch the great trailer here)

Yesterday Pastor Ted talked about the two houses at the conclusion of Jesus' sermon on the mount in Matthew 7. Now does anyone else groan a bit? Think you've thought about every piece of that story? I'll admit, I stifled a groan. What's there to know about a story I've known since I could sing the song in Sunday School? Sing it with me, "The wise man built his house upon the rock..."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Building Our Faith...

God has been challenging me for a little over a year to stretch my vision. Today I wanted to share a short clip with you that highlights how God builds and stretches our faith. Mark Batterson's book the Circle Maker is a great book to read if you want to have your faith and vision exploded. And be challenged to pray with God for bigger things. Have any of you read the book? What did you think?


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Show v. Tell: 4 Tips from Author Jordyn Redwood

Today I'm delighted to have Jordyn Redwood join me with a guest post on how to write show v. tell. As you'll see below, this is something I believe she did with excellence in her new novel Poison. It's also why I asked her if she'd like to write a post to share. Without further ado, here's Jordyn:

Because the great Cara Putman asked me to do this—am I doing this—but let me first say I am hardly an expert on show versus tell—every writing teacher’s admonition for every storyteller out there. In fact, I was quite shocked when Cara said she was taking notes on some passages in Poison because she thought they were good examples of showing. I am still hoping she will tell me exactly which ones so I can admirer my own amazing work because I was that surprised.

Showing versus telling can definitely be learned (after all, I did it and was never an English major) so don’t go over the writer’s cliff Thelma and Louise style if some of these points don’t hit home. I am still learning some of the more advanced points myself and that’s a mark of a true writer—always desiring to learn more.

The concept of showing could also be described as Deep POV. I think these concepts are honestly interchangeable. So if you hear one—think of the other.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Swept Away: The Latest from Mary Connealy

This week, the

is introducing

Bethany House Publishers (March 1, 2013)



When a cowboy focused on revenge encounters a woman determined to distract him, there's going to be trouble in Texas!

Swept away when her wagon train attempts a difficult river crossing, Ruthy MacNeil isn't terribly upset at being separated from the family who raised her. All they've ever done is work her to the bone. Alive but disoriented, she's rescued by Luke unfortunately, there are more chances to die in her immediate future.

Luke is on a mission to reclaim the ranch stolen from his family. But the men currently on the property won't let it go without a fight. Luke plans to meet up with friends who will help him take back the land, and since he can't just leave Ruthy in the middle of nowhere, she's going to have to go with him.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Meditations: The Crux of the Issue

Easter is only a few weeks away...and our pastor has been delivering a series of sermons on the Cross -- how it is the crux of our lives. This week I've been thinking about how the Cross really is the point where everything is exchanged:

  • Our sin is exchanged for God's grace
  • Jesus' death is exchanged for our eternal life.
  • In Jesus' coming resurrection we find the gateway to being joint-heirs with Him.
  • Because of the cross we can be adopted by God.
  • Our pain is exchanged for healing.
  • Where justice demands punishment, God extends mercy
  • Sin is exchanged for a life dedicated to serving our heavenly King. 
  • A life of despair is exchanged for one of hope everlasting.
We can stand in the shadows peering into the throneroom, or we can step in boldly because of the cross and accept all that He extends. I want to step into the fullness of the inheritance made possible by the cross. Are we ready to reach out and accept all that is offered by the cross? 

What would you add to my list of things the cross and Jesus' willingness to die on it transforms? 

Friday, March 08, 2013

Developing a Love of Reading in Your Young Children

Periodically I get asked questions about how my children became lovers of books. Look for several posts that address what I did, starting with tiny kids otherwise known as infants and toddlers.

1) When my kiddos are infants I started by reading to them any moment we were sitting down. Before they could sit up or hold the book, we'd cuddle in a rocking chair with a pile of board books. There are an amazing assortment of books, but here are a few I love to this day:  

  • Goodnight Moon, 
  • Guess How Much I Love You,
  • Dr. Seuss' A, B, C
  • Barnyard Dance, and 

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Robin Caroll's latest book: Strand of Deception

This week, the

is introducing

B&H Books (March 1, 2013)


I had the privilege of reading this book as Robin was writing it. We also brainstormed different pieces. So I got to watch this book grow into the wonderful story it is. This is one of her best! Truly, it takes on a scientific issue, the court system, and suspense. What's not to like? Throw in romance, and this is a great read. If you haven't read any of Robin's books yet, this is a GREAT one to start with. And if you're already a fan, I can about guarantee you'll love this one, too.


When Gina Ford, the daughter of a prominent Tennessee politician, goes missing from the University of Memphis a week after another girl was murdered on the same campus, police call in the FBI. Nick Hagar, married to his job as Special Agent in Charge, is assigned to the case, and when Gina’s body is found, her father demands justice.

Maddie Baxter is the forensic expert running DNA tests from the crime scene. When they come back without a match, Nick asks her to do a familial DNA run that yields a shocking result: the prime suspect is Adam Alexander, the very same guy who broke Maddie’s heart when she was in college.

But do scientific advancements tell the whole story? Strand of Deception offers romance, suspense, and a lively debate about the impact of DNA testing, for better or worse, on the United States justice system.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Strands of Deception, go HERE.


Born and raised in Louisiana, Robin Caroll is a southerner through and through. Her passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others. Robin’s mother, bless her heart, is a genealogist who instilled in Robin the deep love of family and pride of heritage—two aspects Robin weaves into each of her books.

When she isn’t writing, Robin spends time with her husband of twenty-plus years, her 3 beautiful daughters, 2 precious grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home—in the South, where else?

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Homeschooling Tips: to Test or not to Test

This week students across Indiana are taking the ISTEPS.

This week, my children are taking the Iowa Basics.

Indiana does not require testing for homeschooled children, so why are we doing it?

I don't believe the point of education is to test my children. However, I do believe that testing them periodically (about every two years) provides me with a tool to see how I am doing as a teacher. Are there areas that are weaknesses? Are there areas where I may not be challenging my children enough? It provides me with a tool that allows me to determine if I'm seeing my children's academic progress accurately.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Moonlight Masquerade Review

Julie Klassen turned me into a Regency fan -- I discovered I loved the time of Jane Austen's England, but alas Julie only writes one book a year. With Moonlight Masquerade, Ruth Axtell joins this time period...and does so with an eye on the details that I was transported into this tale of impossible love and forbidden longing.

Take a French emigre who is the widow of British nobility and add in a British foreign office employee who is posing as her butler and you have a recipe for a book filled with tension. Add in a dash of spying, a pinch of counter-espionage, and a dollop of  intrigue stirred with a generous helping of interest in each other and it created a recipe for a book that drew me happily to its pages.

Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are the cat or the mouse.

Friday, March 01, 2013

More of You, Lord

This morning I wanted to share a couple things that are bubbling in my spirit. I seem to be in a season where God is challenging me to dare to ask more of Him. And it's a season where the thought wearies me. 

How terrible is that? God dares me to ask for more. And all I can think is "God, I'm just too  tired." Maybe that's why my eyes want to fill with tears every time I take a breath today. My heart's cry has always been to live more for Him, to live big for Him. And now I can't find the energy to ask for it...when I have the invitation.

I want to live a life that dares to dream those God-sized dreams that scare me to death. The ones where I know, but for God it is impossible.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Great Foreign Language Tool

Every once in awhile I stumble on an app that is worth it's weight in gold. And sometimes they're free! Today I want to introduce you to one that I am thrilled with. It's perfect for people who want to pick up a foreign language or brush up dusty skills. Maybe you've heard of it: Duolingo. It's a free app for the iPhone, iPad, etc. and you can do everything on the website, too. I bought Rosetta Stone for us to learn German last spring and it's fine. But Duolingo lets you do the grammar and vocabulary exercises. And it follows a similar flow. However, so far at least, I haven't found where it lets you practice pronunciation.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Travel to World War II Nebraska with E-Books

The stories of my heart are now in e-books. These books were the first of mine that found a publishing home and now they are available for all e-formats. With each of these books I got to highlight a bit of the history of my home state.

I'm so delighted that my first book in the Nebraska series Canteen Dreams is in e-book formats! In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Audrey Stone wants to help in the war effort. But what's a young schoolteacher from Nebraska to do? When her community start a canteen at the train station, Audrey finds her place. She spends nearly every spare moment there, offering food and kidness to the soldiers passing through. Despite her busyness, Audrey does allow some time to get to know a handsome rancher. Willard Johnson worries about his brother who joined the navy to get off the ranch and see the world. When Willard's worst fear is

Friday, February 22, 2013

Picking Topics for Books

One challenge for a novelist is coming up with ideas that generate ideas for future books. While we're writing one, we need to generate ideas for more -- it's a cycle of life of sorts. 

I read a few non-fiction books, looking for anything that jumps out at me. And if it interests me, there is a chance I can spin a story around it. After that I noodle the story, try to come up with new ideas, characters, and details that will coat the non-fiction idea in a way that fiction lovers with enjoy and be immersed in them. 

When Sarah, Tricia and I began talking about creating a novella collection, we stared with a conference call. We started talking about the elements that we share in our World War II novels. Once we started spinning out elements, it became easy to craft a core that we could work from to create stories that were woven together.

With A Wedding Transpires on Mackinac Island, I thought about places we enjoyed visiting. Those often make a great setting for a book that will allow readers to escape into the pages and stories for awhile. 

What makes a book appealing to you?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Unbreakable Giveaway

Unbreakable is the second book in Nancy Mehl's Road to Kingdom series. When you crack open the cover, you'll be transported to the small Mennonite community of Kingdom, a town that wants to live apart and in peace. Yet from the opening pages, Hope and the town are in the sights of an unknown attack. The story spins out with conflict on many levels. Enjoyable read for those who like books with the plain life complicated by the collision of both worlds. 


Mennonite Romantic Suspense Sure to Thrill Readers

Gentle and unassuming Hope Kauffman has never been one to question or try to make changes. She quietly helps her father run Kingdom Quilts and has agreed to the betrothal her father arranged for her with the devout but shy Ebbie Miller.

Despite Hope's and other Kingdom residents' attempts to maintain the status quo, changes have already begun to stir in the small Mennonite town. The handsome and charismatic Jonathon Wiese is the leader of the move to reform, and when one of Kingdom's own is threatened by a mysterious outsider, Jonathon is one of the first to push for the town to arm itself. Hope's fiance, Ebbie, is at the forefront of those demanding the town stay true to its traditions of nonviolence.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Rending Our Hearts: Joel 2

I'm currently participating in Beth Moore's Esther study for the second time. It is a study filled with great truth on destiny and finding God when His name is nowhere in a circumstance. One of the studies for this week tied Esther 4 to Joel 2. Joel is one of those minor prophets that you've read once or twice if you've read through the Bible. What I love is the way she ties it to Esther. Even the repetition of phrases seems intentional, which shouldn't surprise us since all books were inspired by the same Holy Spirit. 

In this particular session she highlighted how the public morning of the Jews reflected their understanding that the King's edict was a result of their turning from God. How many times have we been in the middle of a crisis and then came to realize and understand that it was a result of stepping out from God's protection. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Living with No Regrets

Since January 27, my grandfather and uncle died...exactly one week apart. It's one reason I haven't posted as consistently as usual. My grandma doesn't have wifi on the farm, and it was important to spend time with her.

One theme that kept ringing through as we (my parents, siblings, cousins, extended family) walked through this dark time was that we had no regrets. What a blessing that is. To come to the end of a life and not have regrets of things that weren't said, weren't done, love not shared. Instead, we had sadness but not regret. Here are a few thoughts from that experience.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bella's Back!

Enjoy this fun interview with author Janice Thompson, where she shares the story-behind-the-story regarding Bella’s return.

Janice, welcome! I’m really enjoyed the Weddings by Bella series and am excited to read the spin-off series.

1. Can you tell us more about why you decided to write it?

Sure! (Thanks for hosting me, by the way!) When I wrote Fools Rush In (book one in the Weddings by Bella series) I knew I had something special on my hands. The characters really resonated with me, but there was more. I felt as if I’d created a world of real, wonderful, wacky people. Sure, I’d breathed life into them on the page, but they seemed to take it from there, springing to life and moving the story forward as they willed. I wrapped

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shattered by Dani Pettrey

This week, the

is introducing

Bethany House Publishers (February 1, 2013)


Attending two funerals last week has put me a bit behind in my reading. What I can say is that this book opens with drama and tension and pulled me in. I can't wait to get back to it as soon as I turn in my next book. If you enjoy romantic suspense Dani Pettrey is an author to check out! 


Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Exciting News! I'll be Seeing You at Christmas

I am beyond thrilled to announce that Tricia Goyer, Sarah Sundin and I are coming together to write a Christmas novella collection tentatively titled I'll be Seeing Christmas. It's part of B&H's new World War II fiction line that launches in 2014. The book I turned in February 1st, Shadowed by Grace, launches the line next February.

Tricia and Sarah are two of my favorite writing friends...and write great World War II novels. Brainstorming this collection was such fun, I can't wait to write them. And the best part? The first two are set in Lafayette, Indiana: a place I know a little something about.

Here's more on the collection:

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Safe In His Arms by Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble's latest book, Safe In His Arms, is a historical set in Texas. Maggie O'Brien doesn't fit anyone's image of what a woman should be. Yet Daniel Cutler thinks she's beautiful, something she just can't accept --especially when she's convinced he's a bank thief. This historical romance and mystery winds around the deep truth that God loves us unconditionally, a truth that can transform our lives if we let it.

This book has Coble's trade-mark characterization and a setting that can't be removed from the book without removing a key element of the book. I found myself sucked into the pages -- in a good way!

Safe in His Arms
Sometimes it takes a stranger to see you as you really are.
Under Texas Stars, Book 2
Born and raised on sprawling Texas land, Margaret O’Brien prides herself on her competence as a rancher. But her father believes she’s made for more than just dawn-to-dusk work. He wants her to have the love of a good man, to raise children, to build a life. But Margaret gave up such dreams years ago. She’s convinced no man would have her, that the ranch is her life now.
So when Margaret’s father hires Daniel Cutler as a new foreman, she’s frustrated and suspicious. Then an overheard conversation links him with a gang of bank robbers, and she’s downright worried. Daniel swears he’s not involved, but Margaret’s not convinced. She knows the man still has secrets. But would a criminal be so kind and talk so convincingly of his faith? As a series of tragic “accidents” threatens all she holds dear, Margaret must decide what to trust: her own ears, her best judgment . . . or what her heart keeps telling her.
Learn more about Book 1, Blue Moon Promise here.

Best-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, ACFW Book of the Year, RWA’s RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

All for a Song by Allison Pittman

Allison Pittman is an award winning author of numerous books, all historical, and all set during different time periods. I first got to know her when we both attended a writer's retreat, and she offered to pick me up at the airport. We had a great time getting to know each other, and from our conversations, I couldn't wait to read one of her books.

All for a Song is set during the Roaring Twenties, when a small-town southern girl finds herself tempted as she travels with Aimee Semple McPherson. She's never left her small spot on the map, and as the world opens up for her, she has to decide what role her faith plays in her life. She's always done what's expected of her, and now as her wedding is barreling down on her, she wonders if she'll ever get to live.

This story is beautifully written in a way that drew me deep into its pages. The characters are rich and varied, and I felt transported to a time period I don't know much about, but enjoyed visiting. If you have never read one of Allison's books, please allow yourself a treat and settle in for a read that will leave your mind satisfied and your soul touched.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Turning Life Into Fiction: My Grandpa

 We had my Grandpa's services on Saturday, and then yesterday morning my uncle died. As I've been with family, I've thought about the legacy we leave behind. Grandpa was one of my heroes. Today, I wanted to share with you one way I turned who he was into inspiration for my stories. A couple years ago for Christmas, he had a ceremony of sorts at Christmas. As I watched, I realized it was the perfect way to end my Nebraska World War II series. So that moment became the epilogue in Captive Dreams.

May we all leave such a legacy behind.

Sixty-three years later
Warmth flowed from the fire crackling in the fireplace. The laughter and pounding feet of children running up and down the stairs brought a smile to Anna’s face. On those rare occasions when the whole family gathered, she couldn’t help counting her blessings. God never ceased to overwhelm her with His goodness.

Since that day so long ago when Sid took her hand in the small white chapel at Camp Atlanta and they’d recited their vows, God had walked with them. Through the joys of the birth of each child. A daughter just like her. Two sons, each as different as could be. A second daughter who brought such joy to Anna’s heart with the close friendship they shared.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Honoring a Legacy of Love

Today, I'll be at the visitation and tomorrow at the graduation celebration for my 93 year old grandfather who went home to be with the Lord Sunday. It's been a bittersweet couple weeks as we prepared for him to leave us. The man has left an amazing legacy. He and my grandma were married 66 years. They had four children+ 1 in-law, 7 grandchildren + 7 grandchildren-in-laws, and 23 great-grandchildren. That's a rich heritage because two people fell in love.

He was a man that I could watch God soften his heart overtime. He was a good grandpa when I was a child and only improved with time until he was an absolutely amazing great-grandpa. My siblings and I learned to play 10 point pitch and cribbage from him. My children learned to play train dominos and Phase 10 from him. In August when we stopped at the farm, he taught my then 8 and 11 year olds how to drive his golf cart and smiled as big as they did at their success.

It's bittersweet to let him go. He lived a good life. A rich life. The hero in Canteen Dreams was based directly on my grandpa -- shared his name even -- because I wondered what it would feel like to be the only son of a farmer who was drafted repeatedly during World War II, but always sent home to work the farm. Then in Captive Dreams, the epilogue is taken directly from the most romantic thing my grandpa ever did several years ago at Christmas.


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